UNSC gaza 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Most Israelis regard UN Security Council Resolution 1860 on the Gaza Conflict as a troubling development. It fails to mention the release of Cpl. Gilad Shalit who has been in Hamas captivity since 2006. The word "rocket" does not even appear, only general references to condemning "violence and hostilities directed against civilians." Reading the resolution, one would not be aware that Israel has been under constant rocket attacks since 2001, the real background to the current conflict.
The resolution also suggests a diplomatic sequence that begins with an "immediate" cease-fire, and leaves for the future the efforts of UN member states to provide arrangements that "prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition." Israel halts its defensive operations, but may well be left empty handed at a later stage.
There is also a disturbing symmetry between Israel and the Palestinian side, which appears in Resolution 1860. Despite the language of the resolution, most international observers agree that Israeli civilians should not have to face rocket attacks from Hamas in the future, and hence Hamas must halt this activity. But in Resolution 1860 there is a demand of Israel in parallel, "to ensure the sustained reopening of crossing points" between Israel and Gaza. It is as though the cessation of rocket fire and the opening of the crossing points are symmetric demands that are increasingly mentioned in the same breath by commentators. This is like asking for a quid pro quo for Hamas stopping terrorism.
THIS IS moral equivalence at its worst. Israel should not pay anything to get Hamas to stop firing rockets which is an act of outright aggression against the Jewish State. When Iraq invaded Kuwait, the UN Security Council did not seek Kuwaiti concessions alongside its demand of Iraq to withdraw. Israel is not required under international law to trade with a neighbor if it prefers not to. Resolution 1860 makes specific reference to the November 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). That problematic agreement, which was largely imposed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, is today regarded in Israeli circles as a failure, for it did not stop the movement of terrorist operatives in and out of the Gaza Strip.
It was also an agreement that was reached when Mahmud Abbas and his Fatah movement exclusively controlled the Palestinian Authority. In January 2006, Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections while in June 2007 Hamas launched a military coup against the PA in Gaza. Hamas provided sanctuary to organizations like Jaish al-Islam or Jaish al-Umma which identified themselves as al-Qaeda affiliates. This put the Hamas regime in a category like the Taliban which had allowed the original al-Qaeda to grow in its domain. Given the completely changed circumstances created by the Hamas takeover, it is surprising that the Security Council came back to hold Israel to an old agreement over Gaza reached with Fatah in the past.
Finally, Israel, with the backing of the Western powers, decided to embargo the Hamas regime in Gaza. Trade embargos are a state's inherent right, like the US embargo of Iran or Cuba. Hamas is a particularly severe case for it calls for Israel's destruction, engages in suicide terrorism against Israeli citizens, and brainwashes Palestinian children with anti-Semitic hatred. To compel Israel to open the Gaza crossing points is to deny Israel a valid economic instrument to exercise its right to self-defense against a regime that seeks its eradication.
Perhaps underpinning Resolution 1860 is an assumption of normalized relations in the future between Hamas and the State of Israel. This makes the US abstention at the UN all the more disturbing. The Bush administration, which led the diplomatic fight against terrorism after 9/11, appears to be acquiescing to granting rights to a terror regime that in reality should not earn any more international protection than the Taliban did in 2001.
The writer served as Israel's ambassador to the UN and today is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.